Cloud computing is the crest of the wave of new and better computing possibilities – giving more efficient and cost-effective ways to run small and large organizations, and providing new applications and flexibility for individual and corporate users. As you may have seen our CEO Steve Ballmer say, “Microsoft is ‘all in’ for the Cloud”.
It’s great to hear that the European Union also understands the huge potential benefits of the Cloud. “The EU needs to become not only cloud-friendly but cloud-active to fully realize the benefits of Cloud Computing,” says the Commission in its public consultation
document on Cloud computing initiated by DG Information Society.
This consultation seeks answers to several specific questions about what regulation is needed to encourage the development of Cloud computing. It is clear that the Commission is looking at all angles in order to develop an appropriate strategy, both to develop a strong industry in Europe, and to address the needs of users and protect the rights of citizens.
Microsoft shares the sentiment that a “cloud-active” EU strategy is needed, and we strongly agree that Europe can realize substantial benefits from cloud computing. In our response
to the public consultation, we emphasized several areas where EU action could help to support development of the Cloud:
- Single Market. A more integrated Digital Single Market would benefit users and providers as Cloud services could operate across borders in a more efficient and cost effective way.
- Data Protection. Harmonization of data protection rules is a top priority, along with more clarity with respect to jurisdiction over data.
- Data Governance. Elimination of divergence and inconsistency among Member States in their data-governance regulation would reinforce the economic advantages of a Single Market for Cloud services.
- Security. The EU could encourage greater transparency about the security practices of Cloud providers.
- Reliability. Suppliers themselves should address customer needs for predictability and reliability, and enable more transparent comparison of the services of different vendors.
- Interoperability. Suppliers also should continue their active efforts to deliver interoperability, ensuring that the users can control their own data, move data between clouds and reduce costs when working with multiple vendors’ services.
- Leading by Example. The public sector can play an important role in adopting Cloud computing and increasing public awareness of its benefits.
- International Cooperation. To exploit fully the advantages of cloud computing involving the flow of data across borders, the EU can and should take a leadership role in multilateral discussions to seek global cooperation on data governance rules.
It has been encouraging to see the European Commission actively examine Cloud computing and in particular its benefits for economic growth. As the Commission recognizes, “Cloud computing has the potential to develop into a major new service industry.” We trust that the input from the public consultation will provide additional encouragement as the Commission works to develop an effective regulatory strategy in this important area.